Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said that Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann made "an incredible faux pas" when she said she would consider drilling for oil and natural gas in the Everglades over the weekend, the Palm Beach Post reports.
"The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness," Bachmann said during a stop in Florida on Sunday. "Whether that is in the Everglades, or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region, or whether that's in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is."
The conservative congresswoman added, "Of course it needs to be done responsibly. If we can't responsibly access energy in the Everglades then we shouldn't do it."
On the heels of Bachmann making the remarks, West said during a town hall event in his home state, "When I see her next week, I’ll straighten her out about that."
Tampa Bay-based station WTSP reports that Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, said, "To go in the middle of the Everglades and to spoil the river of grass just because somebody wants to, that's not a wise thing to do."
The AP reports:
In 2002, the federal government at the urging of President George W. Bush bought back oil and gas drilling rights in the Everglades for $120 million. Bachmann, who wants to get rid of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, said she would rely on experts to determine whether drilling can be done without harming the environment.
"No one wants to hurt or contaminate the earth. ... We don't want to harm our water, our ecosystems or the air. That is a minimum bar," she said.
"From there, though, that doesn't mean that the two have to be mutually exclusive. We can protect the environment and do so responsibly, but we can also protect the environment and not kill jobs in America and not deny ourselves access to the energy resources that America's been so blessed with."
Tuesday, a CBS reporter in Miami confronted Bachmann about her call for drilling, asking, "Why would you invade that natural resource with gas and oil drilling?" Bachmann responded, "Let's access this wonderful treasure trove of energy that God has given us in this country. Let's access it responsibly."
Is there even any oil beneath the Everglades? 10News sat down with USF Geologist Dr. Albert Hine, and he told us, "There is no known evidence that there is a significant hydrocarbon deposit beneath the Everglades."
Below, a video report from WTSP on the fallout from Bachmann's remarks.